Millions owed by energy companies to former customers

 

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The Independent Online

The big energy suppliers today launched a campaign to reunite cash with former customers who have left credit with their energy company when they moved home or switched supplier.

Some £153m has accumulated over the last six years, with the average credit balance around £50.

Energy UK’s chief executive Angela Knight said: “This money has been left behind and we are urging former customers to come forward and make a claim.”

The energy Watchdog Ofgem called on the big energy firms to make sure money is returned to former customers back in February, after its analysis revealed that the companies hold more than £400m in credit from closed accounts.

Dermot Nolan, Ofgem’s chief executive, said: “Today’s industry announcement is an encouraging first step by the six largest energy companies. It is good news for consumers and if you think you could be owed money we recommend that you contact your previous supplier.”

The energy industry has launched a website at myenergycredit.com where consumers can get more information.

But Martin Lewis of MoneySavingExpert said the move wasn’t enough.

“While it’s good to see energy firms actually get up off their backsides to try and sort this out – this new website offers nowt new – we’ve had tens of thousands using our guide to do exactly the same for a long time,” he said. “Until we get to the stage where the site lets you fill in your details, find what you’re owed and get it, it’s relatively weak.”

He called on the energy firms to do more to restore people’s cash to them.

“The energy companies claim nine in 10 people get their credit back without asking, even if that’s the case now it certainly wasn’t in the recent past. Anyone who’s switched may be affected, not just those with address changes. Energy companies operated a ‘don’t ask, don’t get’ policy for those in credit.

“In a perfect world energy companies would be pro-actively writing to every customer address they have where people are owed credit and paying out automatically. I don’t hold out too much hope for that, but this is at least a step in the right direction.”

Ofgem’s advice to consumers

If you switched away to another supplier or changed tenancy get in touch with your former supplier. It is helpful if you have to hand a copy of your previous bill with information of your account details and your former address if applicable. Proof of identify may also be required.

If you think a deceased relative may have been an account holder you will need to demonstrate your entitlement to any proceeds of their estate if you are pursuing their closed account.

If you are about to switch supplier, take a meter reading just before doing so. If you are moving, ensure you give a forwarding address to the supplier you are leaving.

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